With Manchester City hitting a West Ham-shaped speed bump in the Premier League on Saturday, it looked certain that Didier Drogba’s bonce had plunged another nail into the coffin of the title race.
Robin van Persie’s late leveller at Old Trafford effectively clawed that nail back out of the casket, but Jose Mourinho’s men still stand as heavy 4/11 favourites to City’s 3/1 price for the title.
Despite those heavily slanted odds, there are three reasons why the scramble for top-flight silverware is far from over:
Chelsea’s late-arriving blip
Many of the combustible characters among Chelsea’s ranks (Drogba, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Mourinho) have yet to feel pressure in their current unbeaten run.
That pressure should present itself after Christmas, especially if the chance of remaining invincible is still intact, and Chelsea generally falter as the season winds down.
In all of the last four seasons, the Blues have stuttered as the finish line approaches, including a winless last three games in 2010/11, 10 dropped points from the final 18 in 2011/12 and three losses as their title bid last season came unstuck in March.
Man City’s marathon approach
In reverse of Chelsea’s slow-finish, City tend to keep enough juice in their system for a sprint.
Last term they lost four of their opening 11 games in the league before storming back with just two defeats in the next 27, a run that included five-straight victories to claim glory.
They also won all of their last six matches on the way to securing their maiden Premier League title two seasons ago.
Which striking ace can stay fitter for longer?
Costa and Sergio Aguero have been the two standout strikers this term, but both are unreliable in terms of their fitness.
If either one returns to the treatment room for an extended period it could well prove pivotal in the destination of the title, with such a scenario perhaps favouring Manuel Pellegrini’s side thanks to the better reserves of Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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